Before marrying Jules, I had never heard of Italian Wedding Soup. Julia’s mom is full Italian, and there’s a lot of heritage that comes along with that. Honestly I feel like I won the lottery when I married into Julia’s family, but that’s off topic. This post is about soup. And darn good soup.
It’s been really cold here the past few weeks, and below zero the past couple days. Jules has been craving Italian Wedding Soup for awhile now, so I decided to take a crack at it. Yes, this was my first time making it, but using some things I’ve learned in my cooking days, I would say it was a total success. Here’s what you need for my version:
For the Meatballs:
• 1/2 lb ground pork
• 1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup bread crumbs
• 1 egg yolk
• 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
• 1 tsp fennel seeds, smashed up really well in a mortar and pestle or something
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 2 pinches salt
• 3 pinches fresh ground pepper
Mix all this stuff together by hand until it’s incorporated well. Don’t over mix it, though, otherwise it’ll turn into dog food. You want the pork to still have texture. Once it’s mixed, just set it aside. And start making the soup.
For the Soup:
• 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 medium sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
• 1 large carrot, sliced
• 1 stalk celery, chopped
• 2 tsp dried dill
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
• 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
• 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
• 7 cups chicken stock
• 2 cups water
• 1/4 cup acini de pepe (small pearl pasta)
• 2 cups chopped kale
• Salt to taste
Warm the olive oil in a pot and sauté the onions for a minute. Careful not to burn the oil. Add the carrot, celery, dill and bay leaf. Saute for about 2 minutes. Add the fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, parsley) and sauté for another minute. Add the chicken stock and water, bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Grab the pork mixture and start making little meatballs. You want them to be small enough to fit on a soup spoon. Drop them into the simmering liquid as you make them. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes after you get the last one in, then add the acini de pepe. Simmer for 10 minutes and add the kale. Taste and add more salt as needed.
Most versions I’ve seen are made with spinach and ground chicken, but I prefer the texture/taste of ground pork and kale. This soup is warm and comforting, but doesn’t sit heavy in the stomach. The classic onion/carrot/celery combo reminds me of my childhood, even though it’s a soup I never had as a child. Serve with warm, crusty bread and you’re all set.
So have you had Italian Wedding Soup? How did you like it? Was there something special about the version you had? As always, I’d love the deets. And if you haven’t had Italian Wedding Soup, maybe give this one a try. I’m sure it will at least help keep you warm this winter. Cheers, friends.